Matthew Draper identifies himself principally as a draughtsman; drawing being the most unencumbered and immediate form of image-making. His work is made with an intense and energetic immediacy, working instinctively rather than methodically, keeping him physically and emotionally involved in the process. He crushes soft pastels in his hands, rubbing the dust into the paper in wide sweeps of colour, gradually manipulating the material to build up a thick layered surface using the ball of his thumb or the heel of his hand.
He is interested in and influenced by the dramatic imagery of eighteenth and nineteenth century painting. He admires the idea of the contemplation of landscape in the Romantic spirit, found in the work of the German Romantics like Caspar David Friedrich and the notion of the grandeur of the landscape as expressed in the work of the American subliminal painters like Sanford Robinson Gifford and Frederic Edwin Church. These artists adopted the term ‘Luminism’, defined as light in the landscape and the effect that light has on the landscape and objects within it.
As a contemporary artist choosing to adopt this approach to light in the landscape, his interest is not to make straight forward topographical images that are illustrations of place. Instead he is attempting to make imagery that is descriptive of the circumstances under which the subject is viewed; images which convey a sense of place. The drawings are emotional reactions to events and experiences evolving in front of him; events happening or about to happen. The images become like fading memories or captured moments in time. The making of the work is in itself a set of actions and events which creates a harmony between his process and his interpretation of the subject.